Third Sunday of Easter

April 14, 2024

April 14, 2024


April 14, 2024

Third Sunday of Easter

Mary Erika

Mary Erika

Mary Erika Bolaños

Mary Erika Bolaños

In my role as principal at a university overseeing more than 5,000 Senior High School students, I find myself encountering young adults at pivotal moments in their lives. They approach me with a myriad of questions and statements, expressing uncertainty, frustration, and a deep need for guidance. Phrases like, “I do not know what to do?”, “How do I move forward?”,  “I know what it is right, ma’am but I need to do this.”,  “I do not think God hears me.” or “I may have been forgotten. I am hurting”  resonate through the halls. It's evident that many of them are carrying burdens beyond their years, feeling drained and disheartened despite their youth.

Allow me to tell a story. One such student, Joshua, caught the attention of several teachers due to his habitual tardiness and tendency to sleep in class. His academic performance suffered as a result. Added to that, he was caught cheating in an examination. I decided to talk with him and I discovered the harsh reality of his situation – he worked nights at a computer shop, often not finishing until 10 pm, leaving him with little time to dedicate to his studies until well past midnight. When confronted with his grades, Joshua's reaction was raw and emotional, his frustration and anxiety pouring out in tears. His story of loss, having lost his sole parent and now forced to fend for himself, added another layer of complexity to his struggles. How could he find the time to grieve when his nights were consumed by work and his days by study?

The readings for today is a source of inspiration to those who may be grappling with life.

In our gospel today, we read how the disciples struggle with the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. Their encounter with the risen Christ is not merely an event of historical significance but a deep personal encounter. This encounter is something all of us can easily relate to. Just as they experienced doubt and confusion, so too do we face uncertainties and challenges. Yet, amid our doubts, Christ meets us where we are, offering clarity, peace, and hope.

Imagine the scene: the disciples are gathered, still reeling from the events of the past days. Their minds are clouded with doubt and confusion, their hearts heavy with grief. Suddenly, Jesus appears among them, his presence radiating peace and joy. Yet, their initial reaction is one of fear and disbelief. How often do we, like the disciples, fail to recognize the presence of the risen Christ in our midst? How often do our doubts and fears blind us to the reality of his love and grace?

But Jesus, ever patient and compassionate, gently reassures them, inviting them to touch his hands and feet, to witness the reality of his resurrection. In doing so, he not only removes their doubts but also reaffirms the continuity between his earthly ministry and his resurrected presence. The wounds that mar his body serve as a powerful reminder of the depth of his love and the extent of his sacrifice. When Jesus said, “Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself” - His pierced body bears witness of a discipleship that endure scars on behalf of others.

Like the disciples, we often find ourselves troubled by doubts and questions. We may struggle to reconcile the complexities of life with our beliefs, or we may feel overwhelmed by the challenges we face. In these moments, Jesus’ words offer us both comfort and challenge.

The gospel reminds us that faith is not immune to doubt but can coexist with it. We are invited to confront our doubts honestly and openly, trusting that Christ will meet us in our vulnerability.

In the Lukan account, Jesus opens their minds to understand the Scriptures, revealing how everything that has transpired was foretold in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. In this moment, the Scriptures come alive in a new and profound way. He entrusted the mission of proclaiming the good news to all nations. We are reminded that the resurrection is not merely an event to be commemorated but a reality to be lived out each day. Just as the disciples were commissioned to be witnesses of the resurrection, so too are we called to bear witness to the hope and redemption found in Christ.

Fast forward to the Acts of the Apostles, Peter delivers a powerful sermon to a crowd gathered in awe at the miraculous healing of a lame man. Through his words, Peter not only explains the source of this miraculous healing but also extends an invitation to experience God's grace. Peter begins his sermon by acknowledging the crowd's role in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Despite their ignorance and participation in this tragic event, Peter proclaims the Good News: God has raised Jesus from the dead. Through his resurrection, Jesus has conquered sin and death, offering forgiveness and new life to all who believe in him. This message of forgiveness and renewal is at the heart of the Gospel. It reminds us that no matter how far we have strayed or how deeply we have fallen into sin, God's grace is always available to us.

Several months ago, Joshua visited me in school. He is about to graduate college. He was very proud to let me know that he joined a student religious organization in the university. He is now one of the elders there. Reflecting on his journey, Joshua candidly admitted that during his high school years, he had a crisis of faith. Today, he stands transformed, his faith rekindled and fortified.

The story of Joshua is a story of human frailty - of unbelief to belief and repentance. In his little way, he embraced the mission of proclaiming Jesus.

It starts with a heartfelt recognition of our need for God's mercy and a sincere desire to change our ways. It requires humility, honesty, and a willingness to surrender our lives to God's will. But in return, it offers us the promise of forgiveness, healing, and restoration. As we journey through this season, let us heed Peter's call to repentance and faith. Let us examine our hearts, confront our sins, and turn to God with contrite hearts. And let us trust in the transformative power of Christ's resurrection to bring healing, forgiveness, and new life to all who turn to him. Let us reflect on Jesus’ saying: Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.

May we embrace Jesus’ invitation to us - His grace is always sufficient for us.


First Reading

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19


Ps 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9

Second Reading

1 Jn 2:1-5a


Lk 24:35-48
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Mary Erika Bolaños

Mary Erika Bolaños

Mary Erika Bolaños, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Santo Tomas Manila, Philippines, and concurrently serves as the Principal of UST Senior High School. She teaches at the UST Graduate School and the Institute of Preaching of the Dominican Province of the Philippines. She completed her Ph.D. Theology in UST with a concentration on the Biblical Paul and finished a Biblical Studies Certificate at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies. In addition, she has written manuscripts, articles, and textbooks in Religious Education and Pauline studies.

Erika serves as a lay catechist-trainer, a missionary preacher, and a socio-civic worker. She has reached different dioceses and mission areas in the Philippines. She is an initiator and volunteer of various developmental and disaster relief programs in different parts of the Philippines. She has reached as far as Calayan Island, Cagayan in the North, and Cotabato in the South. Her immersion led her to be invited as preacher and academic in various parts of Asia, the United States, and Europe. To date, she delivers her reflections at The Word and organizes community works focusing on missionary catechesis.


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